Lotus bubble up

March 10 2009

This afternoon, I was talking with my boss about some of the recent discussions on the blogs in the Lotus community.  I have been struggling for days with whether to say silent or speak up.  Earlier today, I was content to read silently.  Tonight, Bruce Elgort's posting tonight prompted me to speak.  I thought it might be helpful to put some of these words on my own blog as well. --Ed

There still is an underlying feeling that you can't say publicly anything bad about Lotus in anyway.
I think this is self-perpetuated by a few who *want* it to be seen as us vs. them.

When Duffbert criticized IBM for losing a customer last week, I joined in on the conversation.  He also was vocal about IBM for how it handled "Project Match".  No issues there.

When Ben Langhinrichs wrote a multi-part series highlighting major flaws in rich text rendering in Lotus Notes, I read every word and realized he had some very important and accurate points.

When Paul Mooney complained recently about IBM's download process and file names, I was silently cheering "right on!" and trying to figure out how I could climb the mountain to do something about it.

When a potty-mouthed Mac blogger tore the Notes installer on Mac to shreds, I engaged in the conversation and only threw a little bit of attitude back at him.  In the background, I had our developers read his entry, as profane as it was.  However, I vowed not to engage FUDtroopers like that anymore after that episode, because those blogs (and bloggers) are more about getting attention than the betterment of the product.

I, and my fellow IBM executives, read the blogs.  A lot of them.  Frequently.  Internally, we discuss what's being discussed.  I'm not the only IBMer out here anymore.  The texture of the community has changed.  As my boss said to me, the complaints are now far less about the product itself than they were five years ago.  All of this is great progress.  However, we're all still human and reading words, from people we know and often consider friends, that are written to be deliberately hurtful -- even if they are not personal -- causes a natural human reaction of having someone react, get upset, and tune out.

If that is what someone wants, then by all means, keep going.  However, if what you want -- as is the case with Bruce's posting -- is to help make the product, the market, and the world a better place, then write with that meme in mind.  You'll get more engagement, even if you are critical, and you might even effect change.  It happens.  A lot of what I've done in the six months I've been the product executive for Notes is make change happen, based on what you all have told me needs to happen...in some cases, for years. 

So, Bruce, it's not that you can't say publicly anything bad.  Anyone can say what they want, and they should -- frequently -- on techie topics, on business topics, on topics that are critical.  My suggestion -- and it's only a suggestion -- is to think about the desired outcome, and let that guide your voice.

One last thought.  I have been a huge fan of PlanetLotus.org.  But I think that it has lead to a bit of sensationalism in blogging -- since readers are now much more likely to click through on a provocative title and read a blog entry "once", versus having an RSS feed to monitor comments.  I'd like to find a solution -- like CoComment and others tried to be -- to keep the blogging conversations going.

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